Summary: Dr. Ramos Mboane, Provincial Chief Medical Officer in Mozambique shares insights on key factors countries should prioritize to make #vaccineswork.
This post is part of the #ProtectingKids story roundup. Read all the stories here.
During World Immunization Week, people from all over the world are talking about one thing: how do we reach more children with the vaccines that they need? As someone responsible for overseeing the immunization program in my province, this is an issue I think about every day. We all know that there are many reasons children fail to get immunized, and when I think about closing the immunization gap – in Niassa, and for other communities like us around the world – these are the things I think are most important:
- Supply Chain: I would like to see more focus on supply chain as a primary component of immunization program improvement. Without a strong supply chain, vaccines will not be available to the children who need them. One of the key challenges that many countries can relate to is the management of the distribution system for vaccines. Provincial and district levels rely on the quantities allocated by the central level, but issues with transport capacity, cold chain and other logistics challenges often prevent or delay sufficient quantities from reaching our communities. That said, when the right systems are in place to manage logistics, significant improvements can be made. With the implementation of a more streamlined distribution system and related information systems (i.e. OpenLMIS, or SELV in Mozambique) in Niassa we’ve seen:
- Improvement in program management (logistics and data analysis)
- Regular availability of vaccines and other related material at district as well as health facility level
- Reduction in stockouts of vaccines and related supplies
- Funding: I would like to see countries safeguard regular availability of funding for vaccine supply chains. As Chief Medical Officer I have learned that the commitment of policymakers plays a very crucial role to guaranteeing a successful EPI – not only in Niassa, but in other communities. Leadership at the national level can advocate for the changes needed, namely, prioritization of funds to ensure adequate funding for supply chains, including a robust cold chain (especially at the province and district level) adequate transportation, personnel training, and other critical logistics activities to ensure vaccines reach all communities.
- Education: I would like to see more access to education for mothers and improvement in mothers’ awareness about the benefits of immunization and the negative aspects of missed vaccinations. Involvement of community and village leaders in EPI activities is key to improving education and awareness.
As I said, there are many reasons for the global gap in immunization, but focusing on these core issues and working together with partners, government leaders, and our communities, we can do more to ensure vaccines are available to all children.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Ramos Mboane is responsible for the implementation of the National Health Policies and strict adherence to the national guidelines, including coordination of all health activities at provincial level, including immunization. This work includes monitoring changes and trends of health indicators, oversight of epidemiologic control activities, all logistical activities encompassing medicines, as well vaccines, lab and medical care supplies, implementation of routine EPI, pharmacovigilance, and community mobilization activities taking place at provincial level. In this role, he leads collaboration with all institutional stakeholders towards better prevention and control of diseases in Niassa.